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Budget conscious school boards and parks and recreation departments are constantly looking for affordable ways to create accessible spaces everyone can enjoy. When using engineered wood fiber for playgrounds, several issues must be addressed in order to meet ADA guidelines. Compaction factor — the amount that a material will compress — is frequently misunderstood by playground designers.

Understanding how engineered wood fiber products compact is an important consideration when using them in a playground. Any material installed in a high traffic area must be firm enough to allow children with mobility issues to use the space safely. When designing a playground, a distinction is made between natural and mechanical compaction factors. Natural compaction refers to the amount the loose surfacing will compress over the course of normal use, whereas mechanical compaction refers to a focused installation method to speed up the compaction of the surfacing for immediate use.

Knowing how these two factors affect one another is critical to ensuring your playground is compliant with ADA guidelines. Rather than waiting for a product to compact naturally, the use of mechanically compacted engineered wood fiber in a playground will reduce the risk of noncompliance from the start. In the attached article, we explain in detail the difference between mechanical and natural compaction factors, and provide some brief installation guidelines for properly using EWF in a playground. Download your copy today or contact Zeager Bros., Inc. for more information about this key playground design issue.